As if the problems surrounding Cayman’s health care system weren’t bad enough, now it appears that doctors are advising pregnant women to board planes to fly to Jamaica to have their babies.
The recent heroic efforts by the amazingly calm flight crew of CAL flight 600 only serve to highlight the declining commitment to service exercised by local health care practitioners, the government, the licensing boards and professional organizations with which medical practitioners are affiliated.
(Allegedly) Giving a pregnant woman a shot to stop labour so she can board a flight to fly to Jamaica because the doctor and the nurse said it’s cheaper in Jamaica despite the fact that the lady apparently had health insurance and despite the fact that her water had broken is, in my opinion, criminal.
The fact that the HSA has this procedure as standard protocol is nothing short of tragically pathetic.
This so-called ‘doctor’ jeopardized the lives of the mother and the unborn child as he knew quite well that the mother was not at full term - she was at seven months – and was quite possibly close to giving birth to a baby that would need special post-natal care. (Allegedly)
Can women fly at seven months? Sure. Should this lady have flown? No. The doctor should have known this, and probably did. (Allegedly)
Now the baby is in an incubator in Jamaica and the mother and father will have to spend more money to stay in Jamaica, away from Cayman and their jobs; and for what? Because some fool told them it’s cheaper in Jamaica. Yo doc – you’re an idiot! (Not allegedly)
But what are we to expect from a system run by incompetents, managed by fools, and delivered by persons who concern themselves only with the bottom line? And all of this supported by a government that still will not take the proper steps to hire the qualified people to oversee this broken-down mess of a health care system.
For any noticeable improvement to take place Cayman has got to get to the root of the problem. Hold on to your hats because I’m about to tell you what the problem is – and it’s not money like the government says.
The problem with the Cayman Islands health care scheme is not financial – it’s systemic.
The problem isn’t that the doctors and insurance companies aren’t making enough money; the problem is that in today’s system the patients and insurance companies have to SPEND too much money because the doctors are not – in most cases – as concerned about results as they should be.
(Author’s note: I realize there are some very good doctors in these islands who are eminently qualified and dedicated to their craft. This is directed at the quacks who care more about their paycheques than about their patients.)
There – I said it. Doctors need to be more concerned with RESULTS; which means they need to focus more on quality of individual care for each patient. The days of cookie-cutter medicine are over – it’s time to go to work.
How can they do this? Simple. Spend more time each day with fewer patients. Treat patients like human beings instead of revenue centres. Focus on the solution to the problem and not the least-cost way of doctoring. If you do this, you can change the system and the money will still be there - I promise.
Example: If you go to a mechanic you have to leave your car for a day or two so they can look it over and then call you with what they think the problem is; yet a doctor can diagnose a human being - a system exponentially more complex than a car - simply by looking at your chart? I don’t buy it, but I know I’m paying for it.
If doctors focused more on proper treatment of patients they could cut down on costly follow-up care and quite possibly lower the rate of mis-diagnoses and expensive unnecessary procedures. And people with the crappy little basic government plan wouldn’t have to blow their paltry annual allowance to have a doctor not give them the full compliment of attention and advice; which in the long turn costs the patients more money – which leads to doctors putting pre-term pregnant women on planes to Jamaica, thereby rendering useless any local insurance the patient may or may not have.
But when it gets right down to it, the government just doesn’t care enough about you and me to address the problem from a systemic perspective. They will continue to tell us that “health care is expensive.” And they’re right. Inappropriate and inadequate healthcare costs everyone a lot of money – especially insurance companies and patients.
But again – the government just doesn’t care.
Study after study shows that misdiagnoses, missed diagnoses and inappropriate or substandard care kill more people and have a more significant impact on health care costs than research and medical technological advancements. But the government will tell you different because they have no worries.
You see, the government is tucked safely inside a civil service plan that provides 100% coverage for its participants while John Q Public is relegated to picking up the scraps of a system so weak that the very government that DEVISED it is smart enough to not participate IN it.
And local health insurance companies MUST sell this garbage or face prosecution instead of being free to develop products that will more adequately and (possibly) economically meet our needs, while the government opts out, creates its own insurance company, and plays by its own rules. Seperate but equal for all you civil and human rights advocates.
What’s good for the goose will kill the gander and government is holding the axe.
So wake up Cayman. We deserve better. We must demand better.
Better and more appropriate care. Better oversight of the medical practitioners in Cayman. Better options to our health care plans.
And to the doctor who put that lady on the plane to Jamaica I say this: you’d better hope that she is stupid enough to not get an attorney and sue you, the nurse, the HSA and the government. Regardless – you’re an idiot, a fool, a moron, and an insensitive cretin who deserves to be run off the island and banned from ever practicing medicine on this planet again.
I’m sure the spin doctors at the HSA are busying themselves in an effort to deflect blame; and the Cayman Islands Medical and Dental Society is probably doing the same.
Guess what? Not this time. This time you’ve done it. This time you’ve CAUSED harm – you’ve broken the first Hippocratic Oath. This time you should pay for your insensitive and negligent behaviour. Patients and health insurance companies should no longer bear the financial burden for your mistakes.
Shame on the doctor, shame on the HSA, the government and the board responsible for licensing this joke of a doctor.
It strikes me as odd that a government so bent on ridding these islands of Jamaicans after Hurricane Ivan would condone its doctors’ behaviour when they risk patients’ lives by sending them to Jamaica to receive health care. But I guess Jamaicans and other ex-pats will continue to be 'citizens of convenience' in Cayman.
Cayman Islands Health Care: what doesn’t make us stronger will only kill us.